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Swedish diaspora

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Title: Swedish diaspora  
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Subject: European diaspora, Swedish diaspora, Finnish diaspora, Latvian diaspora, Sweden–Uruguay relations
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Swedish diaspora

The Emigrants by S. V. Helander (1839–1901): a young Swedish farmer says farewell of friends and relatives before emigrating
The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Gustav Adolf Church in Liverpool, the oldest surviving Swedish church in the UK

The Swedish diaspora consists of emigrants and their descendants, especially those that maintain some of the customs of their Swedish culture.[1] Notable Swedish communities exist in the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain and Argentina as well as others.


The New Sweden Company established a colony on the Delaware River in 1638, naming it New Sweden. The colony was lost to the Dutch in 1655.[2]

Between 1846 and 1930 roughly 1.3 million people, about 20% of the Swedish population, left the country.[3][4]

In the United States members of the diaspora had access to Swedish films starting in 1922 with The Treasure of Arne which was shown in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some films were made just for the Swedish American diaspora community such as The Film about Sweden and The Old Land of Dreams.[6]

The first recognition by Sweden of the 19th century emigration to the United States occurred in 1923 with a visit by Nathan Söderblom and the 1926 visit by the crown prince, who would later rule as Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.[7][8] He would visit again in 1938.[9]

Swedish expatriates in Manhattan celebrate Midsummer as "a particularly grand example of the Swedish diaspora's ability to hold on to its culture while fully integrating on a global scale."[5]


In Finland

The Swedish-speaking Finns or Finland-Swedes form a minority group in Finland. The characteristic of this minority is debated: while some see it as an ethnic group of its own [10] some view it purely as a linguistic minority.[11] The group includes about 265,000 people, comprising 5.10% of the population of mainland Finland, or 5.50 %[12] if the 26,000 inhabitants of Åland are included (there are also about 60,000 Swedish-speaking Finns currently resident in Sweden). It has been presented that the ethnic group can also perceived as distinct Swedish-speaking nationality in Finland.[13] There are also 9,000 Swedish citizens living in Finland.[14]


The presence of Swedish speaking permanent residents in what is now Estonia (Estonian Swedes) was first documented in the 14th century, and possibly dates back to the Viking Age. There were an estimated 12,000 Swedes resident in Estonia in 1563, mainly distributed along the coastal regions and islands. Estonia was under Swedish rule 1558–1710, after which the territory was ceded to Russia in the 1721 Treaty of Nystad. In 1781, 1,300 Estonian Swedes of the island of Hiiumaa (Dagö) were forced to move to New Russia (today Ukraine) by Catherine II of Russia, where they formed Gammalsvenskby (Old Swedish Village). According to the 1934 census there were 7,641 Estonian Swedes (Swedish speaking, 0.7% of the population in Estonia), making Swedes the third largest national minority in Estonia, after Russians and Germans. During World War II almost the entire community of Estonian Swedes fled to Sweden. Today there are, at most, a few hundred Estonian Swedes living in Estonia and a few hundred in Ukraine, with the estimates varying widely depending on who identifies, or can be identified, as a Swede. Many of them are living in northwestern mainland Estonia and on adjacent islands and on the island of Ruhnu (Runö) in the Gulf of Riga.

In a nationalist context, the ethnic Swedes living outside Sweden are sometimes called 'East-Swedes' (in Swedish: östsvenskar), to distinguish them from the ethnic Swedes living in Sweden proper, called rikssvenskar or västsvenskar ('Western-Swedes'), reflecting irredentist sentiments.

North America

There are numerous Swedish descendants in places like the US and Canada (i.e. Swedish Americans and Swedish Canadians), including some who still speak Swedish.

The majority of the early Swedish immigrants to Canada came via the United States. It wasn't until after 1880 that significant numbers of Swedes immigrated to Canada. From WWI onwards, almost all of the Swedish immigrants entered Canada coming directly from Sweden. In addition to Swedish immigrants from south-central part of Sweden, a relatively large number of Swedish immigrants came from Stockholm and northern Sweden. The newcomers played an important role in the development of the Canadian prairies.


South America

Swedes settled mainly in Argentina,[16] Brazil and Chile. Numerous communities can be found in these countries, especially in Misiones Province and Buenos Aires, in Argentina, in the South Region in Brazil, and there are some Swedish communities in southern Chile.


Swedish soldiers taken prisoner during the Great Northern War were sent in considerable numbers to Siberia. They numbered perhaps 25% of the population of Tobolsk, the capital of Siberia, and some settled permanently. There are also Swedes located in St Petersburg, in Ural and in Siberia.

See also


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  10. ^ "...Finland has a Swedish-speaking minority that meets the four major criteria of ethnicity, i.e. self-identification of ethnicity, language, social structure and ancestry (Allardt and Starck, 1981; Bhopal, 1997).
  11. ^ [1]...As language is actually the basic or even the only criterion that distinguishes these two groups from each other, it is more correct to speak of Finnish-speakers and Swedish-speakers in Finland instead of Finns and Finland Swedes. Nowadays the most common English term denoting the latter group is ‘the Swedish-speaking Finns’.
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ The identity of the Swedish[-speaking] minority [in Finland] is however clearly Finnish (Allardt 1997:110). But their identity is twofold: They are both Finland Swedes and Finns (Ivars 1987)." (Die Identität der schwedischen Minderheit ist jedoch eindeutig finnisch (Allardt 1997:110). Ihre Identität ist aber doppelt: sie sind sowohl Finnlandschweden als auch Finnen (Ivars 1987).) Saari, Mirja: Schwedisch als die zweite Nationalsprache Finnlands . Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  14. ^ "It is not correct to call a nationality a linguistic group or minority, if it has developed culture of its own. If there is not only a community of language, but also of other characteristics such as folklore, poetry and literature, folk music, theater, behavior.etc". "The concept of nation has a different significance as meaning of a population group or an ethnic community, irrespectively of its organization. For instance, the Swedes of Finland, with their distinctive language and culture form a nationality which under the Finnish constitution shall enjoy equal rights with the Finnish nationality"."In Finland this question (Swedish nationality) has been subjected to much discussion.The Finnish majority tries to deny the existence of a Swedish nationality. An example of this is the fact that the statutes always use the concept "Swedish-speaking" instead of Swedish". Tore Modeen, The cultural rights of the Swedish ethnic group in Finland (Europa Ethnica, 3-4 1999,jg.56)
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